European Institutions Reach Deal on New Diplomatic Corps

Catherine Ashton, high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy and vice president of the European Commission. Photo by: EU

The formal adoption of the European External Action Service received a major boost at the June 21 meeting of representatives of the European Union’s Spanish presidency, the European Parliament and the European Commission.

The meeting, held in Madrid, produced a political agreement on the organization and functions of the diplomatic corps. The deal was reached  between EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton, European Commissioner for Inter-institutional Relations and Administration Maros Sefcovic, Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Oratinos, Spanish Secretary of State for EU Affairs Lopez Garrido, and members of the European Parliament, Elmar Brok, Guy Verhofstadt and Roberto Gualtieri.

The parties also approved the text of Ashton’s declaration on EEAS’s political accountability and its basic administration structure.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso welcomed the agreement, describing it as a “major step forward” to making the EEAS operational as soon as possible.

The agreement will be subject to further analysis to allow the European Council to formally decide the implementation of the service. A decision is expected before the end of this year, according to Euractiv.

Participants of the Madrid meeting committed to rally their respective institutions to endorse the EEAS proposal in order to bolster the formal adoption of the European Council’s decision regarding the functioning and organization of the service, according to a joint statement released after the meeting.

The parties also concurred to collaborate closely and constructively to address remaining questions and issues related to EEAS, specifically on its financial and staff regulation.

The EEAS is a diplomatic service proposed to take over some functions currently performed by the European Commission, possibly including aid policy. Ashton had earlier reached a deal with EU foreign ministers regarding the structure and operation of the service.

Meanwhile, a group of Europe-based development non-governmental organizations earlier threatened to take legal action to prevent EEAS from taking charge of Europe’s aid policy.

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  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.